Caroline blackwood

The ‘delishious’ letters of Lucian Freud

Love him or loathe him, Lucian Freud was a maverick genius whose life from the off was as singular as his paintings were celebrated. He never really knew his famous grandfather, who left Vienna in 1938 only a year before his death, and one can only speculate what Sigmund would have made of his wayward and wildly gifted grandson on the strength of this effervescent collection of early correspondence. He certainly would have admired it on aesthetic grounds: a handsome quarto volume, cloth-bound and embossed, whose contents are a model of intelligent design. Every one of the missives – letters, postcards, scraps of paper – is reproduced in facsimile, with

Formidable woman of letters: the grit and wisdom of Elizabeth Hardwick

In an author’s note at the beginning of her biography of Elizabeth Hardwick, Cathy Curtis warns that she has included ‘only as much information’ about Hardwick’s ‘famous husband, the poet Robert Lowell, as is necessary to tell the story of her life’. Ironically, this caveat highlights Hardwick’s status as another wife of the poet. There’s no question that her tumultuous marriage and singular divorce from Lowell were major events in her literary career, but it’s disappointing that in this very first biography of Hardwick, Curtis offers so little argument for her literary and cultural importance. Admittedly, that’s no simple task. Although she is highly regarded as a productive literary critic,